I’m divorced. It’s horrible. It’s tragic. It hurts me and it has hurt other people in my life. I know why God says it’s a bad thing. It is. Plain and simple.
I was recently talking with a friend who has been taught in the same conservative faith background as me. His church is wrestling with the issue of divorce and remarriage. It’s something I understand well having seen how divorced people who had remarried someone else were treated in the church I grew up in. Not pretty at all. When I went through my divorce, I expected to be treated differently. Of course, there are always some who will look down their nose at anyone but my church really reached out to me, love me and held on to me. This isn’t currently the case in my friends church. They want to ostracize a woman who is getting remarried. The want to judge her and everyone involved with the wedding. It’s sad.
The saddest part is I know that some of the most vocal people are struggling in their marriages. Instead of finding ways to make their marriages better, they are condemning a result. The issue is not stopping the result, it’s fixing the problem long before divorce becomes an issue.
I have been berated by someone in my church family for dating. He told me it was sin and, if I remarried, I would be living in sin until I got out of that marriage. That line of thinking blows me away.
So, if I get divorced and remarry it is a sin. However, if I divorce the second woman and go back to being single, it’s not sin anymore. Huh? Really? Christ died for that line of thinking? Oh, maybe grace covers the second sin but not the first. Really?
If I extrapolate that idea of “killing” the second marriage to Abraham and Sarah, wouldn’t Abraham have needed to kill Ishmael because he was born from an illicit affair?
What about David? He can be forgiven for sleeping with a married woman, having a child (who is killed by God so there’s that), kills the woman’s husband and he’s called a man after God’s own heart but if I remarry I continually live in sin. Really? The Gospel is that difficult and confusing?
What if I get remarried and have kids? Then I’m supposed to leave all of them to return to a state of not living in sin? You must be kidding, right?
Sin is dangerous business, there’s no two ways about it. I still hate that I’m divorced but accept that I can’t control everything or everybody. If my spouse was hellbent (no pun intended) on a divorce, all I could do was try to stop it but I’m not a miracle worker. Still, some churches need to step back and examine their teaching with the totality of God’s word.
The Sermon on the Mount is a perfect illustration of the situation to me. Jesus told the people they had heard “do not kill” but he told them not to hold anger towards someone else in their hearts. He told the people they had heard “do not commit adultery” and he told them not to lust. Maybe, if he would have kept going, he would have said you heard “do not divorce” and then told them not to let their marriages fall into a state of disrepair. Jesus came to change our hearts, not our actions. The actions simply follow the heart. Imagine if Jesus said, don’t get divorced but it’s ok if you can’t stand each other, if you fight, if you never talk, and if you raise up your kids in this environment. So when he says “do not divorce” in scripture, do you think he’s just referring to the action or is he admonishing people to change their hearts before it gets there?
I pray no one ever has to know the pain of divorce that I have known.
I pray for churches who are there to pray and encourage and hold up those who are scarred by it.
Grace and peace.